Basic Javascript: Word Blanks Confusing and Badly Implemented

I got into Clemson University’s graduate program in computer science, so I’m not new to programming. I signed up with freeCodeCamp to refresh my HTML/CSS skills and learn JavaScript. I got stuck on the Basic Javascript: Word Blanks challenge. I didn’t get stuck because I don’t understand the concept in this section; I’ve taken two C++ courses, a Java course, and had to use MatLab in my Numerical Methods course and I made high grades in all of the courses.

This challenge is poorly worded and it is hard to tell what FCC is asking us to do. Additionally, the example given is the worst example I have come across so far, and keep in mind I’m doing the Responsive Web Development course as well as the Javascript course, so that’s a LOT of examples (I’ve made it to the Applied Accessibility section and also done the Responsive Web Design challenge as well) . The example given for this challenge is not helpful at all. At all! It just adds to the confusion. And the test output section and debugging hints return some jibberish about a cat, when the functions being passed to the variables have to do with a dog! How is that feedback helpful? What is this mess, FCC? Because it IS a mess!

How many people have to complain about his ONE CHALLENGE for you to rewrite it? It does not look good for FCC to keep ignoring people’s concerns but pestering them to commit to a monthly donation at the same time! I am so glad I didn’t let guilt push me into paying anything yet (I’ve only been signed up for 2-3 days), because I’d be smoking hot mad if I paid to be ignored.

So, I’m done with the FCC JavaScript course. I spend most of my time trying to figure out vague instructions with bad example code. I know they’re not supposed to give you the answer but, doggone, they don’t have to obfuscate the answer and be so obtuse, either! For anyone reading this, don’t do the JavaScript course here. Use another free resource - there are plenty of them around. This JavaScript course just isn’t worth your precious time, at least not right now. It needs to be tweaked and cleaned up. I had such a difficult time with this one section that I don’t even want to venture on to the next ones.

I’m sticking with the Web Dev course, because I already learned this stuff back in the pre-JavaScript days, and it’s just a refresher of HTML/CSS and an introduction to the added functionality of HTML5 for me. But, as of now, I’m dumping this JavaScript course and after I complete the Web Dev course, I will not be pursuing any other courses from FCC. They’ve shown me that they don’t care. So, I don’t either.

In the time it took you to write this unproductive rant, you could have just submitted a PR to change the wording of the challenge.

Will take you to another explanation of the challenge and the expected results. It offers progressive hints and then ultimately will provide you with a solution.

It wasn’t an unproductive rant and you don’t get to decide what I should or shouldn’t do. Mind your own business. Furthermore, many many people have been asking and begging FCC to change that challenge, but their pleas have been ignored, which is why I wrote what I wrote the way I wrote it – to provoke FCC to respond to their concerned users instead of ignoring them. It’s a tactic. And, unless you are a part of the management team who can actually do something about the problem, you don’t have any business saying anything to me because my post was NOT meant for YOU. Stay in your lane and quit telling other people what they could’ve been doing with their time! That’s not your place or your call to make. I own my time and I can do with it as I please. Your approval is neither needed nor required. Again, mind your own business and stay in your lane.

All of us, including you, are part of the team that can actually do something about it. That was my point. FCC is open source and built by a community of volunteers.

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It didn’t help, and there was no ultimate correct solution so we could analyze what we did wrong and get past the challenge to the next one. I found the answer but it took way longer than it should have taken. And, that’s due to how poorly it’s written, the imprecise directions (replace the variables with our own or add four more for a total of eight? Then, there is the conflicting output feedback involving cats, which added more confusing and was; therefore, useless as a hint or help. I tried all of those help options and none of them were helpful. Maybe if the directions and example problems were INITIALLY written better, the hints, etc would have helped. But, when your source/premise is flawed to begin with, equally obtuse hints don’t help.

Apparently, we are NOT a part of the team and can’t do anything about our concerns because FCC has been ignoring the feedback on this challenge for a long time and refuses to address the real problem. FCC just keeps advising people to work the hints and the “solution” that really is not a solution. The writer of this challenge wrote it from a place of experience and forgot that the people trying to solve the challenge don’t have his level of experience. This is a common flaw I have observed over the years and not limited to FCC. But, the other sources were not trying to cajole me into sending them money, either.

FCC is us. Community members contribute to the curriculum, the guide, the application. I don’t know who you think you are talking about when you say “FCC has been ignoring the feedback”.

I have a few thoughts:

First, if you believe that you can write the problem better, than you should say how. Or better yet, you should make a Pull Request on the FCC GitHub repo. Lengthy complaints without solutions are unproductive.

Second, there is no single ‘correct’ solution. That is the beauty and curse of coding. However, with some Google-foo you can find many solutions online that you could have reverse engineered.

Third, as a fellow graduate student, I highly recommend that you learn how to handle frustrating instructions that are not clear to you. You will find graduate studies full of them.

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Firstly, I found a solution and was able to move on to the next challenge, but I’m still stopping the FCC JavaScript course and finding another learning option. Secondly, please refrain from giving unsolicited advice. Thirdly, if I don’t say what the problems are how are they going to be fixed? Lastly, I have a right to my frustration and a right to express it as long as I stay within the rules, which I did. I don’t have to jump on FCC’s bandwagon just because you and some others do. Some of you are acting like cult members or something.

Whomever is in charge of writing the JS curriculum has not responded to the many pleas and requests for that challenge to be rewritten better. Newbies to JS are not going to know how to do that, so it falls to the more advanced users or FCCs managing staff to do it.

Firstly, congratulations! Google is an important programming skill. It’s ultimately up to you how you wish to learn Javascript. Second, I have a right to my unsolicited advice and a right to express it so long as I stay within the rules, which I did. Thirdly, complaining without offering improvements or better yet fixing the problem yourself is literally the definition of unproductive. Problems are not fixed by people complaining but rather by people stepping up. Lastly, I am not on any bandwagon. I’m just telling you how to make your problems better. Don’t you want solutions?

With three programming classes and Matlab experience, maybe you are the advanced user that could fix the problem statement so that every single new student can understand it better!

Advice can’t be considered unsolicited when it is a public response to a public post made on a community forum.

By fixing them. That’s what we’ve been trying to explain. If you go to the FCC repository you will see that challenge descriptions, instructions, and examples can be improved by anyone. They only require text changes and can be done in the browser. Changes are made by members of the Free Code Camp community. As volunteers. Because we want to improve FCC for the benefit of all.

I don’t know how many more ways I can try to explain that those “in charge of writing the JS curriculum” are you and I. We make improvements, bug fixes, and enhancements. Some people donate an extraordinary amount of their time and energy to this effort, but there is no cabal of FCC developers who are searching the forum for complaints but ignoring you.

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No, giving someone you don’t know unsolicited advice is not your right. It’s called harassment. I didn’t ask about how to deal with frustrations in grad school, so your answer was meant to be obnoxious and unhelpful, which it was.

So, you’re telling me that FCC is like Wikipedia and registered users can tweak the challenges to make them more understandable? What’s the process? I had no idea that was an option. I could get behind that. I never had any issues with concatination in my other courses, so running into so many problems here, due to lack of clear instructions and examples, was bizarre and disconcerting.

You made a public post. I replied. That is how forums work. My answer is meant as a piece of honest, helpful advice. Transitioning to grad school is hard. It’s confusing and frustrating, and you deal with suboptimal situations constantly.

And yes. As has been repeated several times, you can make a Pull Request on the FCC GitHub. Your Pull Request will then be reviewed and if accepted your changes will be merged (Link included for perspective on the merging process. Tomes have been written on open source development.).

To me, this Word Blanks challenge is somewhat meta, as most people seem to struggle with it because it describes what needs to occur without providing a step by step list of what to do, with the hope of starting to guide the student in composing knowledge without specific step by step instructions. This focuses on modularity, much like a madlibs story.

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Back in The Olden Times of FCC, this challenge was actually called “Mad Libs” and attempted to explain the mad libs game in the description. Since so many of our members come from different languages, places, and cultures this just confused people. It was changed to just describe the desired behavior. This challenge pushes campers to combine the recent lessons on how variables work, how functions work, and how to create complex strings.

Functions are introduced later, so that is a thing that can make people confused

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I’m sorry for getting snippy with you. My frustration level with the JavaScript course was at an all-time high. I apologize for being overly sensitive and rude to you.

I abandoned the JavaScript course. I don’t have time to Google Fu for hours for information that should have already been included in the instruction materials. I kept going with the Responsive Web Design course since I just needed a refresher. I still have to Google Fu sometimes, but there’s much less of it than in the JavaScript course. I’m on the last project and once I submit it, and get my certificate, I’m going to move on from freeCodeCamp and learn JavaScript (and everything else I want to learn) from another source.

Take care.

I didn’t need a step-by-step list. But, it’s impossible to complete an assignment when you need a piece of code that you don’t know you need AND when the assignment instructions are confusing.

For example, were we supposed to replace the four given variables with our own variables OR add four variables to the already given variables for a total of eight variables? The directions don’t say. That part, at least, should have been rewritten for clarity a long time ago. People have been asking and asking for clarification of this one thing for a long time and nobody has bothered to do it.

For people who have been on the fCC forums for a long time, and have seen all these desperate pleas for help – and who know how to solve the problem – to not do a Pull Request to volunteer to clear up the confusion being caused by one sentence, y’all really have a nerve expecting NEWBIES to 1) even understand what a Pull Request is and how it works and what can be done with one, and 2) attempt to correct directions that they don’t understand. That makes absolutely no sense. :roll_eyes:

I’m finishing this last project in the Responsive Web Design course so I can get my certificate, and I’m learning JavaScript somewhere else. I’ll be sure to make a donation before I leave, though, because fCC did help me achieve my goal of updating my ancient and long-dormant HTML/CSS skills. I’ll come back and give some of the other courses a try after I finish JavaScript elsewhere. Take care.